The latest in a new generation of slasher films that harken back to the 80s heyday, Cary Hill’s Scream Park is the first one I have seen actually billed as a “retro slasher”.
What exactly is a retro slasher?
I’m thinking of films like Hatchet, Full Moon’s recent PMS Cop, and upcoming throwback films like The Pick-Axe Murders III : The Final Chapter and Stage Fright. This is one trend that I could definitely get behind, as many of my youthful days were spent haunting video store aisles and watching every horror flick I could get my hands on.
Scream Park could have easily fit on those old unorganized shelves, existing happily between April Fool’s Day and Sleepaway Camp.
The first forty minutes or so play out exactly like 2009′s Adventureland, but with 100% less Kristen Stewart and/or Ryan Reynolds, which gives Scream Park bonus points already. The staff of the park decide to throw a party at the end of the night after learning that the park will be closing down, and they are all losing their jobs.
The cast of victims (er, characters) are introduced quickly and in typical broad strokes. They are the nice girl, the jock, the punker guy, the slutty chick, the goth, the uptight manager ; they have names like Marty and Roy and Carlee. They are underage and like to drink and screw. Got it?
Needless to say that things really get going when bad guys show up and begin to take them out one by one, of course, in creative practically-staged ways. The killers are first glimpsed lurking around the fringes of the park, but as they begin making their moves, we get more close-up looks at the sadistic killers and the freakish home-made masks they wear.
Top-billed Doug Bradley shows up about an hour into the film in one extended cameo scene as Mr. Hyde, the over-the-top owner of the park with a secret agenda. I don’t think it is a spoiler to note that Mr. Hyde is the one behind these murders (as it is right there in the official synopsis), and the whole thing has been set up to try and drive more business to the park in the future. Bradley of course has a convincing demeanor that would make anything sound like a great idea. His three minutes of film is a highlight.
One thing that is troubling is the inconsistent tone. I am unsure when the film is actually set. The characters dress and act like typical movie teenagers from the 1980′s, but they reference Twilight and cell phones.
Is this a retro slasher, or just a cheap modern slasher with retro elements?
Either way, this is the kind of film we could use more of.
It plays out exactly like it sounds, as if it were a hidden discovery from those days of picking out a movie based on it’s cover art from the horror section of your local video store.
Scream Park definitely follows the tried and true slasher rules, with no attempt to subvert or re-invent them.
It is actually kind of refreshing.
No social commentary. No meta theories. Best of all, no CGI blood splatters.
Just a cast of teenagers trying to survive the night, trapped in an interesting location, hunted down by killers, with one Final Girl remaining.
It is a goofy, gory fun time.
Simplicity itself, well worth a watch.
Full Moon Studios has been around for years, spreading their unique brand of low-budget horror and exploitation to the masses. Rivaled only by Troma Studios, these quick and dirty do-it-yourself films were easy to appreciate in the simplest ways, as a sort of taboo. They always gave you the feeling that you were watching something you shouldn’t be watching.
As a child of the 70s growing up in the 80s, scoring the latest lurid Full Moon title from the video store on the corner was always a treat, a special kind of gift for the young horror fan. These films seemed to have no rules, no manners, and very often, no obvious redeeming qualities.
And these are my favorite kind of films.
Now, the days of passing off the newest tattered VHS copy of Re-Animator in the school hallway are long gone, but the studio who brought us so much exploitation joy has adapted with the times, bringing us a brand new streaming service. With 100s of movies to choose from under the Full Moon and Wizard banners available for instant streaming, the studio has also enticed a new generation of insensitive low-budget filmmakers to add to their library.
First out of the gate is PMS Cop, a new feature from director Bryon Blakey, which goes live on the service today, April 4th 2014!
Described as a dark comedy horror, the official synopsis reads : Mary, a police officer, suffers from severe PMS. After beating a clown rapist to within an inch of his life, she is encouraged to get help. A local pharmaceutical company is holding trials for a new drug, corybantic, that is designed to stop PMS. Mary enrolls and after a tragic event, she has a horrific side effect. With superhuman strength, she begins to kill everyone in her path without mercy.
And, if you weren’t sold by the end of the second sentence above, then this is definitely not your cup of tea. Keep on moving, as we cover all the aspects of horror here, from the artsy to the goofy, and this one falls squarely onto the side of “goofy” (not that that is a bad thing).
So, for the rest of you out there like me, who read “After beating a clown rapist to within an inch of his life”, here is the button to push to watch now!
After a disclaimer that says “The producers of this movie are in no way admitting to the existence of PMS”, the film kicks right off with the aforementioned clown rape scene, complete with some lovely exposed breasts in the first minute (!)
Our hero cop team arrives just in time to stop the menacing balloon-shaping antics of the deviant clown and chases him through a skate park, ultimately taking out the suspect. Unfortunately, the incident is caught on video, and the officers are called in to be reviewed by a psychologist.
Heather Hall as Mary is appropriately hostile and very funny in the opening scenes as the officer who takes no shit. The doctor infers that she beat the clown into submission simply because she was PMS-ing, and sends her off to be treated by a new trial drug.
We learn through flashbacks that Mary’s life has been no picnic, and she finally breaks after a sudden tragic loss and begins her reign of terror.
After she snaps, Mary becomes an imposing figure with her mirrored shades and tear-streaked mascara, and embarks on a “Falling Down”-style rampage through town. Her first victims are wife-beaters and pick-pockets, and she proves that she can rip off jaws with the best of them.
Unfortunately, the first half of the movie is where we get all of this good stuff, as the premise seems to run out of steam shortly after Mary is captured and detained to be studied. From this point, we get a lot of chatter from the doctors and various background characters from the sinister pharmaceutical protege to a hapless computer hacker, all spouting ideas and theories in drawn-out sequences, when all we really want to see is Mary doing more menstrual murdery stuff.
To be fair, as she makes her escape there are several scenes of glorious appendage-ripping and great spurts of practical blood effects. And it all wraps up nicely in a perfect set-up for potential sequels, which is how I remember most of those old films ending.
In all honesty, I liked Mary more in the opening scenes when she was a wise-cracking disillusioned realist rather than when she turns into the mindless (and dialogue-free) killing machine (played stoically by Cindy Means). PMS Cop may not be everyone’s cup of tasteless tea, but it does what it sets out to do, evoking the classic feel of the early 80s exploitation flicks and giving us some inappropriate chuckles. Overall, this film is a bloody good time.
Check it out exclusively on Full Moon Streaming, releasing today!
Lord Of Tears is a love letter to the Hammer horror films and Lovecraftian literature of the last millennium. An artful and atmospheric filmed nightmare, it draws from all of its influences to become a unique piece of film that will not soon be forgotten.
The first feature film from director Lawrie Brewster, he claims the film to be “no mere attempt to entertain”, rather an attempt to create his own mythology of old monsters and vengeful ghosts. Using the mythos of Lovecraft as a foundation, Mr. Brewster and the film’s writer Sarah Daly have created their own hidden world, with its own set of rules.
The film tells the story of James, who has inherited a large lonely estate in the highlands of Scotland from his recently deceased estranged mother. She has also left him a letter strictly forbidding him to return to the old house, cryptically reminding him of suppressed childhood memories of monsters and loss.
A feisty little hobbit of a man, James decides he must return to the estate to try and remember what happened to him as a child. All along the way he is plagued by nightmares and quick-cut visions, creepy images barely glimpsed in passing.
The film is shot gorgeously, and the utter solitude of the historic estate is illustrated beautifully. Lingering looks at snow-covered mountains and gnarled old trees are cut in with extreme close-ups of web-spinning spiders and crawling worms, giving a genuine sense of unease.
Upon his return, he meets Evie, a beautiful young lady who claims to live in the converted stables next door. She is motherly and kind to James, and a romance brews between them as he slowly learns more about his new home and himself. Dancer Lexi Hulme, who steals the show as Evie, is classically beautiful and has a unique grace that is put to great use as the narrative progresses.
James himself is clearly haunted, and it becomes increasingly obvious that the old house contains some ghosts as well. He repeatedly sees visions of a lurking form, an unsettling figure dressed like a Victorian gentleman but with the head of an Owl, and elongated limbs with sharp claws.
The duo unravel the mystery surrounding the figure, and through research and luck, learn the story of Morloch, an ancient God of sacrifice. A mysterious key to a secret pagan shrine, a collection of bible verses, and his repeated visions lead them to find out more about the origins and motivations of the creepy Owlman.
I am the immortal owl The foul eye of oblivion I am the almighty misanthrope, The rope that tightens with the ticking of the clock. I am the absolute and infinite blackness at the end of the tunnel. I am the inevitable end of all things.
The film slow-burns it’s way through the middle third, building to a creepy and intense climax tying all the threads together for one of the bleakest endings in recent memory.
Explaining the mythology it created, and even answering a question the viewer probably didn’t know the film was asking, the whole thing is wrapped up in a very creepy sequence and a dark coda.
A fine first film, all the way around. One that succeeds (and exceeds) in everything it set out to accomplish with a grand and artistic flourish.
We will be very much looking forward to future work from director Lawrie Brewster, and interested to see if he decides to expand on this new mythology, or create a new one for us to enjoy!
Check out the trailer for the film below, and stay in the know about it on Facebook.
The film is available for purchase directly from the filmmakers here.
I should take a moment and talk about the packaging.
In this time of digital downloads and constant streaming, it is sometimes hard to remember the joy of opening the well-designed packaging of a film to add to your collection. The DVD version of the film is presented with not only a wide assortment of special features on the disc(s), but a beautiful slipcase decorated with gothic art, and a booklet further expanding the mythology of the story.
It was also hand-wrapped in black tissue paper, and affixed with a single owl feather. Get your copy here, signed by the writer and director.
Best known for her nerve-wracking role in Hellbound : Hellraiser 2 as the menacing Female Cenobite, Barbie Wilde has gone on to cement her status in the horror world as a prolific author.
Her short story Sister Cilice, first seen in 2009′s Hellbound Hearts anthology, was an insightful look into the origin of her iconic film character.
First released by Comet Press in 2012, her controversial novel The Venus Complex is a beautifully-written and insightful look into the mind of an artistic and sadistic killer. Banned by the Edmonton Public Library earlier last year, the book is a must-read for fans of crime fiction, or anyone who has ever wanted to understand what exactly is going on behind the mask of sanity presented to the world by “likeable” serial killers such as Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer.
Written in a “secret journal” format, the story of The Venus Complex follows the life and unfiltered thoughts of art professor Michael Friday as he recovers from a tragic accident and rebuilds his life.
Professor Friday is the handsome professional that hides many dark secrets from the world. He lives a fascinating dual life, reminiscent of recent literary serial killers like Dexter and Patrick Bateman, wearing the “mask of sanity” that never betrays his diabolical inner imaginings.
In fact, one of the earliest revelations into just how disturbed he may be is the fact that the automobile crash that wounded him and killed his wife was not exactly an accident.
As his recovery progresses, and through candid confessions to his journal, Professor Friday is revealed to us as a smart and observant budding serial killer.
The matter-of-fact way he looks at his life and the world we all inhabit have begun to poison his trains of thought (and give the readers some insightful social commentary), so he turns his focus to a young lady named Elene, a forensic psychologist who is employed at the same university.
Elene quickly becomes his obsession, and he turns the majority of his attention away from his disgust with modern society and focuses on her, his instant “soul mate”.
He finds himself unable to resist stalking and learning about her, and he quickly becomes an expert on the subject of Elene. He even tracks down an out-of-print book that she wrote about serial killers which provides him with the “moment of clarity” he has been searching for.
Spurred on by the insights he finds in his obssession’s book, our protagonist quite suddenly makes the decision to kill someone.
He writes in his journal :
I want…I need…to make a difference somehow. I cannot bear this dullness I feel, this unrelenting boredom with my existence. Maybe I should go out and kill someone. It would be the ultimate transgression, the ultimate high. The ultimate.
And, after passing that point of no return, the reader is taken along for the ride as Friday methodically plans and practices his new craft, which he refers to as “The Venus Complex”.
The novel races along with voyeuristic glee, as the reader is now made accomplice to Friday’s complicated plan. The journal style is greatly effective in making the reader feel complicit in his crimes, and has the strange effect of making us root for the “bad guy”!
The writing is tight and believable, chapters coming in varying bursts of rage and contemplation with each journal entry. Michael’s crimes become increasingly gruesome and he makes the precarious decision to assist in the criminal investigation of the case, which lead to some incredibly tense moments.
Michael Friday proves himself to be the ultimate professional in whatever he chooses to do, calm and cool even when his inner thoughts are screaming. He is a fascinating character in a great story, and this book is recommended reading for all of you fine students of Horror Homework!
Find “The Venus Complex” on Amazon.com here, and for more insights into the book check out my brief interview with Ms. Wilde below, but beware of some slight spoilers ahead for those of you who have not yet read the book!
Also stay tuned for Part 2 of “Cenobites Who Write” in the next few days, where we get to take a look at Other People’s Darkness, a new collection of short stories from the Chatterer himself, Nicholas Vince!
I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with Ms. Wilde, and asked her a few questions about The Venus Complex. Check out the short interview below!
HH : As a British woman, how did you manage to climb into the mind of a wholly-American male character? Your insights into a certain male pattern of thinking were amazing.
Barbie Wilde : Well, although I’m based in Europe, I’m actually Canadian. I grew up in Canada and then the United States (including Syracuse, NY, where the book is set), so I’ve met and known quite a lot of North American men. As far as my insights are concerned, I just did my research, not only into the thoughts of serial killers, but also into regular guys’ mindsets as well. I was lucky enough to have access to some very honest male friends who gave me their opinions on how men see the world.
HH : Some of Michael’s more radical ideas and rants make sense in a dark way, such as his frustrations with globalization and overpopulation. How much of yourself and your own beliefs went into these dark confessions?
Barbie Wilde : After I created the character of Michael, I was able to get into his head and follow his line of reasoning. It’s almost like an acting job, if you like. I certainly can understand Michael’s rage at the world, at the state of television, at injustice and stupidity.
HH : The “diary style” of the book was a great way to get inside the head of this character. Did you ever consider (or try) to write it from any other point of view?
Barbie Wilde : I actually began the book in the third person, concentrating on Elene, the character of the forensic psychologist. I thought that it would be interesting having a female character as the protagonist. However, after a while I got bored, to be honest. I wanted to do something different: to write a whydunnit, rather than a whodunnit. My interests had always been in the behavior and motivations of serial killers, so the idea of creating a “diary of a serial killer” was born.
HH : The equation of sex and pain as [not?] mutually exclusive is a big theme in the novel, and depicted in a matter-of-fact way that is not for the squeamish, but rings as honest and true. Why do you think so many people can’t separate the two?
Barbie Wilde : It seems all part of the peculiar design of human sexuality where sometimes the lines can get muddled. Even the act of loving sex can appear to be violent to the voyeur. And the sound of ecstatic sex can sometimes be confused with the sounds of murder, especially the sounds that are generated from the female of the species.
Human sexuality is unbelievably diverse and it’s a bit of a fallacy to think that we are all the same. It’s 360 degrees of desire. (Hey, that sounds like the title of my next novel!)
HH : I found Michael’s trains of thought to be fascinating and well-considered. He was a true professional of his chosen field(s). Will we be seeing more of his continued work in the future?
Barbie Wilde : A lot of readers have asked me that. I will be writing a sequel sometime in the future.
However, at the moment, I’m working on a screenplay of a short story of mine called Zulu Zombies, which appeared in Gorezone #29, as well as the Bestiarum Vocabulum Anthology (published by Western Legends Press). I’m also working on the play version of Sister Cilice, which was my first short horror story about a Female Cenobite that appeared in the Hellbound Hearts Anthology, as well as co-writing a musical drama called Sailor, which is about love, loss and revenge, set in the ruins of post-War Marseille.
Billing itself as “the only film magazine made by filmmakers” the new bi-monthly print magazine Delirium is available now!
Edited by master horror journalist Chris Alexander (former columnist for Rue Morgue, and current editor of Fangoria and the newly-resurrected Gorezone), Delirium is a different kind of magazine.
Brought to us under the banner of Full Moon Pictures, this new periodical is meant to focus on the work and films of Mr. Charles Band.
A legend in the horror industry, Mr. Band is responsible for many of the classic Empire films of the early 80′s before forming Full Moon Studios and bringing us many new staples of the genre.
In fact, over the past four decades, Mr. Band has had his hand in hundreds of films of varying quality and relevance. The goal of this new magazine is much more than a simple advertisement for the works of Charles Band, it is a glossy look into the past and future of everything Band-related.
The first issue smartly kicks off with an informative look back at the definitive cult classic Re-Animator, as you can see on the beautiful cover above.
The format of the magazine closely resembles the Rue Morgue layout from Alexander’s tenure, beginning with a brief editor’s note and a quick look at notable releases. News about the new web-series “Trophy Heads” and a re-release of the “ganja-version” of 1996′s “Head Of The Family” quickly leads into the Re-Animator coverage.
The articles include an insightful interview with director Stuart Gordon and a nice chat with scream queen Barbara Crampton (complete with stills of her assets). Capping it off with a look at the much-loved score by Richard Band and a fascinating serial memoir from Gordon himself, the Re-Animator coverage is informative and fun. Everyone seems to remember it fondly, and it is great to learn some inside information on the making of the classic film!
Followed by an article called “The Birth Of A Director”, Alexander next interviews Douglas Aarniokoski about his experience in the movie industry. Known as the director of the new film Nurse 3D, as well as past experiences as an AD for Robert Rodriguez and Sam Raimi, Aarniokoski’s story is one of those great ones. A guy who loves movies just goes for it, and his hard work and dedication pays off. A very inspiring story!
Next, we get an inside look at Full Moon’s Wizard Studios imprint, which is designed to spotlight international indie filmmakers and give them a wide distribution through the new streaming service. They give us quick looks at three upcoming titles from the service, alongside quick chats with the creative people responsible for them.
A peek at the sequel for Killer Eye follows that, and a long and loving look at Stephanie Rothman’s 1972 film “The Velvet Vampire” which is one of many titles streaming under the Grindhouseflix label. In fact, the next article gives us quick synopses of a selection of titles also available to stream under the Blue Underground license. Some serious classics are on this list of exploitation flicks, including The Blood Spattered Bride, The Church, and Lamberto Bava’s directorial debut, Macabre.
Things get wrapped up with a long and loving look back at Tourist Trap, and a final thank you from Charles Band himself, reminiscing of the days of old Marvel Comics and the fond memories of “Stan Lee’s Soapbox”, where the readers were treated to a look inside the windows of the life of the creative person. This seems to be the mission of Delirium magazine : to take a long look back at the decades of work put in, and have a little fun doing it!
Over all, I very much enjoyed the first issue of Delirium, even though at some points it feels uncomfortably clear that it is essentially a 52-page advertisement for the films and services of Mr. Band. To be fair, however, the man has had a long and fascinating career in the horror industry, and it seems unlikely that Alexander and the other contributors to the magazine will run out of interesting stories any time soon!
Looking forward to the second issue, which will feature a close look at the great “Tombs Of The Blind Dead” series, and many more!
Subscribe to the magazine and peruse the unique Streaming Service here , and be sure to check them out on Facebook for updates and news about new and upcoming issues.
During a recent chat about the seemingly unstoppable remake trend, a good friend of mine said, “This type of news doesn’t shock or upset me anymore. NOTHING is sacred. They are trying to turn out many untouchable classics like they’re just dirty old whores. It’s just a question of who chooses to do what and how well they pull it off.”
And she is right.
Now, calling the 1996 film “From Dusk Till Dawn” an untouchable classic may be a bit of a stretch for some of you, but to me that is what it is. I have some of the fondest memories of being 20 years old, on acid, experiencing that film for the first time alongside my best friend.
So, to me, this thing is untouchable. It was a unique and insane new take on the vampire legend, with some of my favorite performances from awesome people.
George Clooney, in my opinion, has never topped his role as Seth Gecko.
Tom Savini, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, so much to love!
And who could forget the first time they saw Salma Hayek as Santanico Pandemonium?
But this is about the show, not the film.
And by now, after countless remakes we should be able to seperate the two.
I know that no one can take away the original, so what can we say about this new version?
First off, the question of who is doing the remaking has a unique answer.
Robert Rodriguez himself (director of the original film and many other favorites like Sin City and Planet Terror) is leading the charge for this new version.
In fact, he has created his very own television network El Rey where the show can be seen exclusively. The channel shows some great overlooked Grindhouse films and oddball Spanish shows, and From Dusk Till Dawn looks to be it’s first big selling point.
Rodriguez is quoted as saying, “I want El Rey to be everybody. I want it to be very inclusive. Instead of going to Hollywood where the doors are closed, mine is going to be where the doors are open. I’m going to flip the pyramid of power around outwards, where people all have a say, because that’s what you want.”
In fact, the prolific creator is credited as director in the pilot episode, although I think he hands of the reigns to someone else after this first one.
When the show was first announced several months ago, I immediately thought it could have great potential to continue the story. After one sequel and prequel that were pretty much related only in name, it would be exciting to see what happened next.
After that great lingering final scene of the huge temple behind the bar showed us the vampires had likely been feeding here for decades, there was huge potential to expand the mythology of these creatures.
Also, I always wondered what happened to Juliette Lewis’ character after Seth left her there, alone in the middle of nowhere. It made sense for Clooney’s character, but always left that lingering question : What was she supposed to do next???
It seems we will never know what happened to her, as it turns out the new show is not a continuation, but a re-imagining of the story.
The series premiered last night, and will continue for the next ten weeks on the El Rey network, and on Netflix Streaming outside of the United States.
My overall thoughts of the show was that it was hit and miss. Some things worked, some not so much. First of all, the casting is interesting and stronger than expected.
Don Johnson is excellent in an expanded role as Earl McGraw, originally played hypnotically by the great Michael Parks. A character who died before the opening credits even rolled in the film, McGraw is seen here having breakfast with his partner, chatting about life and estimating how many days he has left.
Zane Holtz, replacing Quentin Tarantino as Richard Gecko the dangerous psychopath, is somewhat of an upgrade. He drips with psychotic tension, and seems much more imposing and dangerous right off the bat. It also seems that they are alluding that he has some sort of psychic connection with the vampires, which I am guessing will come into play sooner rather than later.
D.J. Cotrona, reviving George Clooney’s unforgettable role as the bad-ass, level-headed Seth Gecko doesn’t fare quite as well in my opinion. He spends a great deal of time hiding in the bathroom on his cell-phone with Carlos (Cheech Marin replaced by the “foreign kid” from That 70s Show, say what?) trying to find an easy way out of their predicament.
In fact the entire first episode takes place in Benny’s World Of Liquor, which only constituted the opening scene of the film.
The fast pace of the original store scene served as a quick introduction to these ferocious criminals and their plight, but this new version expands it and changes a few things. It still hits the same beats, just hangs on a bit longer and changes the tone.
Since I know the film by heart, I could see every tweak and pick up on every nuance. Of course, some worked and some didn’t. In fact, when it felt the weakest and most forced was when they were replicating lines directly from the film without even a change.
The “Be Cool.” proclamation lost effect here, but some of the reworked dialogue actually felt more natural and insightful.
The most interesting twist and significant change to the storyline so far is the character of , Earl McGraw’s partner, who didn’t exist previously. He is outside waiting in the car as Earl fatefully drains his lizard, and by the end of the premiere his character becomes a prominent part of the revamped story.
Overall, it is an interesting concept with some great potential, and I can’t wait till we get to return to the Titty Twister and see what the show can offer that could possibly compare to the pure chaos of the original.
I look forward to seeing this series through to the end, and what else Robert Rodriguez will be bringing to this unique new television network.
So what did you guys think of the new show?
Set in the midst of a brutal war in the Balkans in 1996, The Seasoning House is a film dripping with atmosphere. From the opening scenes set to the sounds of one girl weeping as another crawls through an air vent, we are forced to vicariously take part in the secret goings-on of a horrible place.
The Seasoning House an old rickety place, filled with the spoils of war. Meaning a recurring supply of kidnapped young ladies who are forced to pleasure the weary soldiers who have most likely murdered their entire families.
“What ever life you knew is gone,” the girls are told as they arrive, and it proves to be sadly true.
Our main character is “Angel” a young birth-marked deaf-mute girl who somehow gets taken under the wing of the otherwise sadistic owner of the house, Viktor.
In order to keep herself under the radar of the housemaster and his lecherous guests, Angel scurries around through the walls, and performs the dirty jobs of shooting up the other girl’s with heroin and smearing their faces with makeup.
The first half is an unflinching look at the inner workings of this shameful rape house, and does the job of making the audience squirm. Angel does what she must to survive, as do the victimized women, but the monsters are real and they are horrible.
The atmosphere of filth and dread is almost unbearable.
Angel makes a connection with one of the girls, who happens to know sign language. Through flashbacks we see Angel’s abusive relationship with her own father, and her family torn apart for sport.
When her mother’s killer shows up at the House with a patrol of men on a break, Angel makes her move to try and save her friend and escape the House. It is a bloody turning point about halfway through the film. From then on we thankfully don’t witness any more rapey stuff, but the film follows Angel’s escape, which plays out something like “People Under The Stairs vs. The Military”. I mean that in a good way.
It is a complete tonal shift from the first half, as the resourceful young girl makes a sport of these militarized heathens. She is wonderful in the role, agile and smart and I found myself rooting for her escape whole-heartedly.
The film as a whole may be uneven, and the rapy-er parts might turn some viewers off, but all in all I found The Seasoning House to be an interesting and well-told tale.
Find it on DVD here, or catch it on Netflix Streaming!
Grade : B
Back in 2005, a hardcover collection of the artwork of the legendary Clive Barker was published under the title “Visions Of Heaven And Hell”. Now unfortunately out of print, it is a must own for any afficionado of the master of the macabre. I consider it one of my own prized possessions.
In the subsequent years, Mr. Barker has emerged as an amazing visual artist, something that many fans of his film and written work may not be as aware of. With the publication of his incredible Abarat series, each volume of which includes a staggering amount of beautiful paintings, he has proven himself to be as great a painter as he is a writer.
Some people just have it all, I guess!
“I think of myself as somebody who is reporting from a world of dreams.” -Clive Barker, interview for Barnes and Noble, Fall 2002.
Now, with the help of Kickstarter, we will be able to see a new collection of artwork from this living legend in the form of a new limited edition hardcover.
According to the Kickstarter page :
IMAGINER is the first comprehensive volume of the artwork of Clive Barker. Featuring over 75 artworks and over 160 pages, the book will be a gorgeous large format of 10″ x 13″ inches. There have been marginal explorations of Clive’s artwork in the past, but the most important part of this project is that the book is composed of entirely ALL NEW and ULTRA HIGH RESOLUTION image captures. The detail is impeccable, and Clive flatteringly declared the difference in detail of the new captures compared to previously printed ones like the difference between “chalk and cheese”. (Which means they’re really, really good!)
The purest, most direct path from the raw creative mind of Clive Barker to our world is through his artworks. We are in the process of exhuming and documenting a lifetime of genius; these artworks are the origin points of characters we recognize, and hold hints of stories yet to come. We expect this first book to be the beginning of a series of volumes examining his work in great detail, and are also in the process of documenting his creative process on film for a documentary titled Clive Barker: Imaginer.
This is an art book of the highest quality, and is being created with the utmost attention to detail to present the artwork as though you were witnessing the paintings and drawings in person.
With a nice selection of incentives for backers and fans of Mr. Barker’s work, this book appears to be another must have from this huge inspiration!
Check out the Kickstarter campaign for more details!
Contracted is definitely not a film for the squeamish.
Telling the slow burn story of Samantha, a young lady in modern Los Angeles with dreams of making it big, it is clear from the very beginning that it will not end well for her.
After a drunken one night stand with a mysterious stranger, she begins to notice severe changes, many of which are ripped directly from our nightmares (and the films of David Cronenberg).
Samantha’s life is falling apart as her body deteriorates, and she does nothing but try to hide her degeneration from her friends and family.
Affected by what is essentially a sexually-transmitted version of a “zombie virus”, Samantha falls apart mentally and physically, with all of the grossest effects you can think of.
Unfortunately, aside from Samantha, the supporting characters are fairly empty, including her “best friend” Alice, her experimental lesbian stereotype lover Nikki, and her obsessed stalker/suitor, Riley. Although this could be intentionally to satirize the vacuousness of the hip young L.A. crowd, it really hampers the believability of the characters and their motivations in the final chapters of the film.
What is effective is Samantha’s growing desperation as her body fights against her.
Her metamorphosis is the star of the movie, and the make up effects are well done, as she rots away and maggots fall from her girl parts.
In a market buried in zombie releases, at least this film tries to give us a unique spin on it, and the paranoia and desperation of the main character’s degeneration is the thing that sticks with me most, more than a week after seeing the film.
Although it veers from believability toward the end when Samantha begins to succumb to her primal zombie urges, the overall effect is a horrifying commentary on the choices we make and how they may come back to bite us in the end.
Grade : B
This film is now playing in select theaters, and available On Demand from several different options, including Amazon Streaming.
After passing it up for a while now, I finally caught Would You Rather late last night.
The trailer looked interesting, and it does have Jeffrey Combs in a starring role as a sadistic philanthropist. Worth a shot, right?
So I went in, not really expecting much, but it turned out that I loved this mean-spirited subversion of the “torture porn” trend turning up in many current horror films.
The story opens as Brittany Snow’s character Iris is job-hunting and struggling with bills and her very ill younger brother. After an unsuccessful interview, her mounting desperation leads her to accept an offer to join a dinner party from a mysterious benefactor (Combs), at the urging of her trusted doctor.
The subtlety of the film is striking, (and continues throughout, even as things get grislier) as Iris’ situation is painted in broad strokes, but it works very well. We don’t need to know everything about her (or the other characters, which are outlined just as loosely later), we only need to know she is a good-hearted person in need.
As the odd dinner party commences, Combs steals the show with his shifting mixture of forceful menace and feigned tenderness. His role as the generous father figure with a dark side is hypnotic to watch.
I loved the minimalist style of the whole movie, which sounds odd given Jeffrey Combs’ over-the-top performance, but he injects a lot to his character in the quieter moments. He is clearly having such a good time that one can’t help resist feeling a certain amount of complicity with his sadistic game.
The game starts off simply enough, as the host treats Iris and a group of seven other guests to a lavish dinner spread. The first hint of things not being what they seem occurs as Combs amuses himself by tempting vegetarian Iris to eat her meat for $10,000 which she agrees to. He ups the stakes, and his gleeful sadism, when he offers another guest who is a recovering alcoholic the sum of $50,000 to drink an entire decanter of Scotch.
His point is that everyone has a price, and desperation can drive people to do things that they claim to be unable to. Any one is capable of any thing, and Combs’ character knows this. He continues to exploit it throughout the rest of the film, as the game gets progressively meaner and bloodier, and the other players get “eliminated”.
The film is mostly set in a single fancy dining room, creating a claustrophobic quality that makes the audience feel as helplessly trapped as its characters. The scenario escalates with each round of the game, and there are little to no hysterical outbursts, another thing that I appreciated about the story. Each character has their own reasons for being there, and they tend to react (mostly) reasonably given their predicament.
Obviously, there can only be one winner of the game, and the last scenes ratchet up the tension until it all ends with Combs giddily driving his point home. The final scene is one of the cruelest punchlines of an ending since Frank Darabont’s adaptation of The Mist.
I very much enjoyed this harsh low-budget game of chance, and I honestly am not a fan of most torture porn flicks. Jeffrey Combs has another memorable role to add to his already impressive resume, and director David Guy Levy is now on my radar for people to watch out for in the future. This one actually had a point (albeit a mean-spirited one) and was a well-done and effective watching experience, including one sequence that actually made this hardened gore geek squirm and look away!